“What do we do now?”
I’m writing this mostly to the Democratic Party and its members but I don’t think any Trump voters or Republicans would find anything offensive and might even like parts of it.
I admit it. I thought it was the End of the World when Trump won. The entire government being run by the Republicans. A Republican Supreme Court that we’d have to endure for decades. Utter ruin. But maybe, just maybe, it isn’t as bad as it looks.
How’d we get here? For a long time now, we’ve divided ourselves into Blue and Red and stood on opposite sides of the street screaming bumper-sticker slogans at one another. Not a good way to persuade the other side that your ideas are better, just a way for each side to hate the other even more.
The Democratic Party, long known as a circular firing squad, went from “Ready, fire, aim!” directly to shooting themselves as soon as they picked up their guns. The Party doesn’t have any values that ALL Democrats believe in. Everybody picks a direction and goes charging off on their own. No destination in particular, no exact goal in mind. We don’t even care what other Democrats think. We just rush off into battle. Totally unprepared. For generations, the Democratic Party has been by far the largest political party in America. But Democrats control few state legislatures or Governor’s mansions and we just gave away the Senate, House, Presidency and Supreme Court to the Republicans. Quick rant- Just to be accurate, Mitch McConnell refusing to allow a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee was a move only an asshole would make. Legal but WRONG. “The incoming President should make that decision”. Bullshit. Obama was elected, twice, fairly and in accordance with our laws. Since when does McConnell get to rewrite the Constitution? The day will come that he and the rest of the Republican Party will regret this. Rant over.
The Democrats used to be known as the party of the working man. If we can make America a good place for the working class, it’ll be a better place for all of us. Democrats should burn this into their brains. There are mid-term elections in two years and the number of seats in the Senate that Democrats have to defend will be higher than usual. Now is the time to start laying the groundwork for the mid-terms and trying to win over some Red state voters.
In contrast to the Democrats having innumerable factions, the Republican Party seems to have only two- conservatives and extreme conservatives and they waste a lot of energy fighting one another. The Republicans, having brought it upon themselves, are considered to be a party where bigots are welcome. This does NOT mean that all or even most Republicans are bigots! But the party should purge itself of the bigots, the alt-right, the haters, the white-supremacists. As our nation becomes more diverse, the number of people who will put up with a party that tolerates hate decreases. If the Republican Party continues to court only white people, it will shrink into well-deserved oblivion. Once more for emphasis, Republicans are NOT all bigots. It would be wise for all Democrats to understand this and act like they understand.
It might be a good idea for the Democratic Party and individual Democrats, to look closely at the Red states and the people who live there. Most of the people who live in Red states don’t hate women, minorities or anybody else. But a lot of them are, justifiably, pissed off that their jobs are disappearing or already gone, their Main Streets becoming boarded-up ghost towns, their kids have no prospects for making a living wage unless they desert their birthplaces. That a lot of people have found in using drugs an antidote for the hopelessness of where they live. Change a couple words and I’ve just described our urban ghettoes. Poor people and working class people across America have an awful lot in common. And they are PISSED! And they should be. Our system has utterly failed these people and a lot of them saw in Donald Trump a sledgehammer with which to kill the system. Maybe they are shortsighted in this but you better understand where they’re coming from.
When Democrats and liberals look down on Red staters we do them and ourselves a disservice. Same with those in the ghettoes. They are all Americans, our brothers and sisters. If America is to prosper, everybody has to have a chance to prosper. Economic security among working class Americans has been declining for some time now. All the politicians promised to do something about it but they’d rather spend their time in partisan warfare and feeding at the trough of lobbyist money. Jobs? No time for that.
Lobbying should be a crime, not an occupation.
America should be proud of its freedom of religion. Where I live, almost nobody attends church. We had better never look down on those who do. Everybody has a right to worship, or not, in whatever way they wish, whenever they wish.
Different parts of the country have very different cultural traditions that need to be understood. I have friends who live in the South. There’s a deep Southern tradition of friendliness. Even toward Yankees like myself. Most of the rural parts of America have long traditions of gun ownership and hunting. Maybe we could summon up some respect for people who own guns. Democrats had best believe that America cannot and should not attempt to take people’s guns away. If all of us show a bit of sense and respect, we might end up with gun laws that protect the public without giving the N.R.A. something else to scream about. Minor rant: The N.R.A. leadership is a serious obstacle to ANY chance of common sense gun laws. Rant over.
Democrats should be smart enough to realize that we need a strong opposition party to keep us from going completely off the rails. Republicans should smarten up and understand that it’s a really bad idea to have rich white guys who are not doctors tell women what they can or cannot do with their bodies. Women are more than half the voting population. They expect and deserve to be respected. Republicans- if you manage to overturn Roe v. Wade, all you will accomplish is to make it harder for poor women to get abortions. The rich will continue to go where abortion is legal. And the number of abortions is unlikely to decline. So overturning Roe will mean the same number of aborted fetuses but a much higher number of dead women. You cannot back policies like that and call yourself “Pro-life”. Both parties should work together for policies that make abortion safe, legal and rare.
I suggest that Republicans lose the anti-choice plank of their platform. It is a total deal breaker for a lot of people, myself included. They also should tell Grover Norquist and his enablers to take a hike. A vow to “never, under any circumstances, raise taxes” is counter-productive. Sometimes, a policy can be too simple. Norquist’s policy is a prime example. If the Republican Party continues its march to the extreme right, at some point it will go over a cliff.
Democrats, we need to actually be a party of inclusion, not just talk about it. We are not the sole repository of common sense or patriotism. If we want people to stop looking at us as a bunch of smartass elites, then maybe we shouldn’t act like we are. If we want people to vote Democratic, we need to listen to them, respect them and give them good reasons to vote for us. Talk is cheap. Results count. The more we can separate the Democratic Party from Wall Street and its pernicious influence, the better. There’s another 2008 style crash coming within two years or less. I guarantee it. We’d better not be caught in bed with the bankers. We oughtta be making sure that anyone who games the system goes to prison. For decades, hard time, not eighteen months in “tennis prison”. The SEC and IRS should have their funding for auditors and watchdogs tripled. We’d get every dime back fifty times over.
Everybody in both parties needs to understand that there is a vast gulf between flag-waving and actual patriotism. Any dope can buy a flag. A patriot loves his country when it’s right and yells his head off when it’s wrong.
Almost done now. At last. Is that a sigh of relief that I hear? My final point: Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Nobody is entitled to their own facts. Fox “News”, Breitbart, Newsmax, Limbaugh and their ilk have done nothing except sully the reputation of journalism. The “mainstream media” are called that for a reason. The best of them report the news straight down the middle, no slant either way. The best newspapers confine their opinions to the Op-Ed page. The Wall Street Journal is considered a conservative paper. But you’d never know it unless you read their Op-Ed pages. Their news reporting is right down the middle. The Times and the Post are considered, rightly, to be liberal papers. But only on their opinion pages. The news reporting is straight down the middle. The best news media outlets have reputations to protect and the best way to lose their reputations is to slant the news in any direction. I’m not trying to denigrate all conservative journalists, only those who shade their reporting to serve a political interest. There are a fair number conservative writers whose work I admire greatly and try never to miss. It’s damned hard to be well informed if all you hear or read is stuff that caters to what you already believe. Sometimes, the other side is right. In my humble opinion, intentional ignorance and patriotism are mutually exclusive.
To steal directly from Jim Wright’s excellent Stonekettle Station blog- “If you want a better country, try being better citizens”.